Jordan Spieth Reflects on Year as Champion Golfer
Jordan Spieth had already won The Masters and the US Open but he now admits that the enormity of being crowned Open champion 12 months ago hit him like a punch “in the gut”. And he says that he had no concept of how long it took him to play the 13th hole, when he famously had to take a penalty drop after a wild drive and then spent 20 minutes contemplating where to drop his ball.
The American won his third major, and his first Claret Jug, courtesy of a dramatic final round at Royal Birkdale in which he lost and then regained the lead with a run of birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-par over his closing five holes to edge out Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Kuchar.
Spieth said the 72nd-green announcement of him becoming Champion Golfer of the Year was like being hit in the stomach - in a good way. “When those words were spoken on the green at Birkdale, it just kind of hit me,” he said ahead of his arrival at Carnoustie for the 147th Open Championship.
“It was almost like someone had kind of punched me in the gut in the best way possible. Just you need to realise how special this is and embrace what it means. I look forward to teeing it up at Carnoustie, having those chills go through me as I step to the first tee and remember the year before, and obviously get focused and try to do it again.”
The win was made all the more special because Spieth came so close to blowing his chance last year when he skewed his drive on the 13th wildly right, immediately putting his hands to his head as he watched it sail into the deep rough. His fears were confirmed as he was forced to take a penalty for an unplayable lie, which was when things got interesting.
He spent the next 20 minutes looking for a suitable dropping area which resulted in him heading to the driving range, smashing a blind shot over the equipment trucks and into a greenside bunker from where he made a bogey.
It made for enthralling viewing, something which Spieth forced himself to relive 24 hours later. “I got home to Dallas the next day, and I couldn’t help but turn on the final round and fast-forward until the tee-shot on 13,” he added. "I was like ‘I don’t even know exactly what happened on that tee-shot’ and then from there, after five minutes looking for the ball, I got pretty annoyed.
“For me it went by pretty quickly because it was ‘Okay, decision here, decision here, now I need to drop here, now I need...but with the coverage, with the commercials, they come back and it seems like we haven’t even moved.
“That was kind of tough to watch. I had no idea where that third shot actually landed until I watched the coverage. It was kind of funny, for me, as from the tee-shot to the third shot everything went faster than what it seemed when I was watching it. But then after the 13th hole, everything went slower to me than on TV.”
Such a finish at Carnoustie is highly unlikely as the closing stretch of holes are among the toughest in the game, as Jean van de Velde famously discovered when he took off his shoes and socks as he contemplated hitting his third shot out of the Barry Burn on his way to eventually losing a play-off to Paul Lawrie.
“I don’t have any memory of the ‘99 Open, unfortunately. But 2007, I definitely do. I remember watching Sergio (Garcia) and Padraig (Harrington) going at it and I remember that 18th hole. That was kind of the height of me starting to fall in love with the game and travel and play.”
In 2007, Harrington dropped two shots at the final hole and then had to look on as Garcia, needing a par to win, saw his putt slide by. The pair finished level and Harrington went on to win the playoff, the first of his two victories in The Open.
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